Statement by Antonio Negri
I have read the opinion piece entitled 'Tutorials in Terrorism' published by Keith Windschuttle in The Australian (16 March 2005). The article contains nine points that are completely false. These scandalous accusations contradict the truths established by Italian judges who convicted me of some charges but found me totally innocent—and therefore definitively absolved—of another series of crimes.
The nine points are as follows:
1. I never had anything to do with the Red Brigades, neither as leader, member, nor sympathiser. These charges were dropped after some months (in late 1979/early 1980). Even Cossiga, who put me in jail at the time, has now repeatedly rejected these allegations. I have been totally absolved of these charges. As a matter of fact, when I was in prison the Red Brigades even condemned me to death for disassociating myself from 'armed struggle,' along with many other friends in Rebibbia prison.
2. I never had anything to do with the kidnapping and murder of the Hon. Moro by the Red Brigades. The court records hold me completely innocent of this accusation.
3. The murders for which I was initially accused were all revealed to be false accusations. I was absolved of all seventeen! I was convicted for 'crimes of association' and never for 'crimes of blood.'
4. I was initially accused of being the person who telephoned the Moro family. The first expert declared my voice to be eighty per cent compatible with the voice of the caller. Another expert demonstrated the contrary, since the voice of the caller had an accent from Marche. Subsequent trials—and the role of the penitents from the Red Brigades—revealed the truth; it was Mario Moretti who made the call (he is in fact from Marche). I was completely absolved because I had nothing to do with this. When Espresso published the disk about which The Australian article speaks (with my voice from a lesson, and the voice of the caller during the days of the kidnapping—a way of inviting public opinion to judge by itself), I should have taken them to court for defamation. Unfortunately I was in a high security prison. I was absolved nonetheless.
5. I was elected a member of parliament of the Radical Party of Marco Pannella, which, contrary to what The Australian article says, is not a an extremist neo-marxist party but a party that has become ever more liberal. It was already liberal in those days (although more in the 'libertarian' mode) and today tends almost to the position of Bush. In any case, the party fought for civil liberties and due process in an era of emergency laws, which is nothing to be ashamed about either yesterday or today.
6. I did not use my liberty as a member of parliament to escape to France. I escaped only when they decided to remove my parliamentary immunity (by a majority of only 4 votes in the lower house ... the votes of the Radical Party). I had already served four and a half years in a maximum security prison. My conviction of 30 years (1983) was reduced by appeal to 13.5 years (1986), only for 'crimes of association.' The judges removed the charge of insurrection against the state, contrary to what The Australian article affirms. When I returned to Italy in 1997, I did in no way bargain for a reduction of the sentence. In fact, after my return to Rebibbia, a sentence of 3 years and 4 months was added for 'fatti di piazza' (protests in Milan during the 1970s). The total sentence was 17 years and I served it all.
7. The publication of Empire in the USA does not seem to me a phenomenon of 'radical glamour' and the mention of my imprisonment in Rebibbia on the book cover was simply the truth. Empire was published by Harvard University Press and cited among the seven 'next big ideas' by Time . Neither Harvard nor Time seem to me suspects of 'radical glamour' or to have sympathies for political extremism.
8. I am not in my sixties. I am 71—almost 72—years old. I was 64 when I returned to prison in 1997. I was not put under house arrest. I did one year of full imprisonment (with common inmates), two years of 'external work' (permission to exit only for work, with interdictions against change of plans and not respecting the required hours, constant surveillance, and return to jail after work); two years of semi-liberty (nights in jail, days at home for studying with interdictions against leaving the vicinity of the house and constant surveillance); and one year of 'guarded liberty' (days and nights at home with interdictions against leaving the vicinity and going out between 10pm and 7am, with regular surveillance). I was definitively released—after having served my entire sentence—on 25 April 2003. I am free to travel and to hold courses, conferences, and seminars throughout the world. This is precisely what I have done for the past two years in major world universities (Cambridge, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona, Beijing, Shanghai, Buenos Aries, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Paris, where I teach now).
9. I do not need an entry visa for Australia since the process has been simplified to require the issue of an electronic travel authority at the time of purchase of the ticket. If a visa was necessary I don't see why I should not obtain one, given that I have never been convicted of terrorism.
Conclusion: the article by Windschuttle is false from beginning to end. It is a scandalous and vulgar act of historical revisionism.
© borderlands ejournal 2005